How do I find the best travel insurance?
Finding the right travel insurance was difficult enough before coronavirus struck.
Since then, dozens of insurers stopped selling travel cover. Those that kept selling or since restarted have added COVID-19 exclusions to their policies, meaning it's hard to get cover for anything related to coronavirus at the moment.
Coronavirus-related disruption to any overseas trip is still a very real possibility, so it's important you find a policy that gives you the cover you need.
Equally, you'll have to accept that travel insurance won't protect you from all the risks of post-lockdown travel.
- Find out more: where can I go on holiday this summer?
Post-lockdown travel insurance: what to look out for
If you're planning to travel abroad during the pandemic, it's important to know that this comes with considerable risk, and that travel insurance won't protect you from all of it.
If you're still shopping for travel insurance, look out for:
Medical cover for coronavirus
Look for cover of at least £2m (Europe) or £5m (worldwide).
Though most insurers no longer cover coronavirus-related cancellations, a growing number will pay out for any medical treatment you need if you catch the virus while you're away.
Keep in mind that until the end of the year, you'll be able to get free treatment in the EU with an EHIC, although this should be an accessory, not a replacement for travel insurance.
Make sure your insurer has a 24-hour emergency helpline.
Disruption and cancellation cover
Look for cover of at least £3,000.
It might be difficult to find this, since many insurers have removed it from their policies, but keep an eye out just in case.
It will reimburse you for costs associated with delays, missed departures or being forced to remain at your destination for longer than planned (as is the case with the holidaymakers trapped overseas).
Do read the smallprint - some cancellation policies only cover an incredibly narrow range of circumstances.
At the time of writing, we knew of very few insurers covering cancellations relating to coronavirus. (Read more here.)
Scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI)
Look for the same level of cover as you would for cancellation.
This will cover you if your airline goes bust before you fly.
The coronavirus pandemic is putting pressure on airlines as demand for bookings falls. Flybe, which collapsed earlier this year, might not be the only airline to do so during the outbreak.
Booking flights over £100 with a credit card also gives you protection under Section 75.
When considering level of cover, don't forget about the excess.
This sum is subtracted from the amount the insurer pays you. So if you had a £3,000 cancellation claim, and a £200 excess, you'd get £2,800 from your insurer.
High excess may make a policy's premium cheaper, but could dissuade you from making small claims, as the amount you'd get paid out would hardly justify the effort.
Find out more: travel insurance explained
Best and worst travel insurance companies
Before the pandemic, we rigorously analysed the quality of European and Worldwide travel insurance policies from hundreds of insurers.
We also gathered feedback from thousands of real customers on how they rate their provider to help you find top quality cover with a great customer experience.
This review reveals which travel insurers have the best annual and single-trip insurance policies, along with top customer satisfaction scores.
Naturally, these results are based on work carried out before the coronavirus outbreak and the changes to travel insurance that came in its wake.
- Table correct as of 9 July 2020
*These insurers are no longer selling cover to new customers due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Read more here.
**Most policies currently available will not cover any cancellation claims related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for any policy purchased after 9am 13th March, or new trips booked with existing annual multi trip policies after the same date. Medical claims relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) will still be covered. Please visit the provider's website for more detailed policy information. Read more here.
Customer score data is based on a survey of 4,471 respondents from the general public telling us about their travel insurance provider in March 2019.
Sample breakdown: NFU Mutual (39), Tesco Bank (102), Boots (38), John Lewis (39), Just Travel Cover (40), M&S Bank (82),Post Office (132), NatWest (150), Age Co (39), Nationwide (382), HSBC (121), American Express (61),InsureandGo (210), LV (53), First Direct (40), Santander (68), Saga (198), Barclays (167), Thomas Cook (100), Lloyds (219), Co-op Insurance (47), Holidaysafe (52), Debenhams (49), Direct Line (149), Halifax (152), Virgin Money (90), Alpha Insurance (40), AXA (184), TSB (68), Aviva (200), Churchill (39), Admiral (50), Direct Travel (50), Staysure (164), Columbus Direct (43), Flexicover (61), RBS (81), All Clear (42), Bupa (39), AA (109).
Policy scores are based on the provider's standard policy. Annual and Single-trip policy score is our assessment of the quality of standard policies from each of the providers, comparing 22 categories from each policy type to come out with each overall score.
Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 respondents to generate a customer score and inclusion in the table.
Total score is made up of 50% of the Customer score and 25% each of Annual and Single-trip policy scores.
How we calculate the scores
The customer score is based on a survey of 4,471 general public respondents from March 2019. Each score is worked out using a combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending the provider.
If two or more brands achieve the same overall score, they are ranked to the next decimal place. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 to be included.
The policy score is our assessment of the quality of standard cover, comparing 22 elements of annual and single-trip travel insurance policies. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 respondents to be included.
Total score is made up of 50% of the customer score, and 50% of the policy score.
Who are the travel insurance Which? Recommended Providers?
We've temporarily stopped recommending any travel insurance providers due to coronavirus' impact on their policies and service.
We won’t resume doing so until we have a clearer picture of what their revised policies look like once business returns to ‘normal’, and how they’ve served their customers during and since the pandemic.
Understandably, many insurers are prioritising serving their existing customers. Significant numbers have temporarily withdrawn from the market - while policies still available for sale generally won’t cover coronavirus-related claims other than medical cover, for an indefinite period.
This doesn’t mean we won’t continue scrutinizing insurers and providing you with essential information as the situation unfolds.
You can find out more about coronavirus and how it could affect your travel insurance here.
How we pick Recommended Providers
To be a Which? Recommended Provider, an insurer must:
- Be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
- Be available to the general public.
- Have received 30 or more responses in our customer survey.
- Have received an average or above average policy score (see table for current average score) and a customer score of 70% or above.